November 24, 2012 | Back to: Columns

High school football? Don’t let your kids do it.

OK, I’m just going to come out and say it. Anybody who plays contact football is foolish. Parents who let their sons play football in high school are being foolish. Anybody who soberly looks at what’s going on in football would conclude that to voluntarily subject yourself to that kind of abuse, qualifies you as being foolish. Not quite the level of foolishness you see in TV wrestling and cage fighting, but you’re heading in that direction.

I’m 64 and I’m a sports fan. I appreciate what I call “pure” sport … swimming, track and field, cycling, tennis, golf, etc. Sports where you don’t intentionally put yourself in harm’s way. Sure you can have accidents in these sports, but it’s rare and not an inherent possibility.

With football, you have a line of muscled behemoths who would love nothing better than to grab any available part of you and drive your vulnerable body into the ground. For quarterbacks, running backs, and receivers, it’s even a sport to see if they can be taken out. Look at the New Orleans Saints scandal of “bounties” for hits so severe it caused the opposing player to leave the game. Helmets and heavy padding don’t fully protect against being slammed into the turf or having your limbs bent in unusual and creative directions.

When I reached high school, my buddies were itching to play football. It was the gladiator thing … school pride. On the first scrimmage of the first day of practice, my buddy Craig broke his leg in three places, and as long as I knew him, he walked with a limp. Now the press is filled with stories about concussions from youth to the pros and the dangerous legacy they’ve left.

Two thousand pro players have filed a class-action lawsuit for inadequate information regarding concussions and lasting brain damage. Add to that the knee, rib, foot, back, neck and arm injuries, and we’ve got the whole body covered. When you get to my age, those old injuries can really take a toll. Why do you think Joe Montana and other pros do commercials for pain-relieving creams?

My point is: It’s OK to have “team spirit” and “school pride”… just express it in a sport that’s not going to leave your son in a lifeless heap on the field with trainers and coaches rushing to assess the damage. A lifetime of injury isn’t worth the pride of beating the Toadville Cowhawks.

Gregg Littell lives in Auburn.

Parents who let their sons play football in high school are being foolish.

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Gregg Littell


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The Union Updated Nov 26, 2012 07:54AM Published Nov 24, 2012 12:00AM Copyright 2012 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.